How do you experience God?
It has taken me until this past year to realize just how many different ways there are to feel close to Him and just how different people can be in that experience. I see some post a million pictures of sunsets to their Instagram accounts, always praising God for His creation. I see others spend hours at a time reading over theology books, never quite being able to get enough. For some, praying with others is when they feel His Spirit move, and for people like me, music is an emotional, God-ordained time.
What about your spouse? If they are a believer, how do they feel close to the Lord? Maybe you are very similar and both enjoy spending time together in the Word or maybe you are completely different and sense Him speaking to you in completely different ways. For Matt and I, we are the latter.
It took me awhile to realize this. Before we were married, I walked a path of legalism that still bubbles up from time to time today. I had to read my Bible every single day or I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. If I didn’t think I prayed enough, I felt guilty and thought God was mad at me. I struggled with the weight of my sin no matter how much I asked for forgiveness. Thankfully, Jesus really got a hold of my heart and showed me just how great His love and His grace were. He worked on me as I began college and used my church and those around me to build me up and tear down the ties that had bound me so long. By the time I married Matt, I definitely felt more of the Lord’s freedom, but still thought that our marriage needed “more”. More what? I’m not sure… but I would hear of these amazing couples that prayed together every night, read their Bibles with one another every day, and who would go through numerous Bible studies as one. These are all great things, but as I pushed Matt to lead me (not quite the way it works…) and he tried to do so, I only pushed back. What in the world was my deal?
It took me several years and lots of tries on both of our parts to realize what was going on. We do not experience God the same way. I live for my worship music and can’t get enough of God’s presence when I listen to it. Matt, on the other hand, loves to be in the Word. I often find his Bible on the table when I get up in the morning and know that he was having a quiet time before he headed to work. The problem? Matt is not a fan of Christian music and I am horrible at studying my Bible. Don’t get me wrong, Matt likes worshipping at church and God definitely uses His Word to speak to and through me in my life, but these are not the ways that we both feel drawn to and close with the Lord. What took me so long to realize was that this is ok.
God speaks to us all in different ways and it’s ok if your way is not your spouse’s way. What is important is that you are each experiencing Him both together and separately. If you experience Him through the Word, then by all means find time in your day to be alone and curled up with your Bible in hand. And if you feel Him in the waves of music then turn up that volume in your car and belt it out as you run your errands for the day. But how do you come together and experience Him?
This is a tough one and one we are still learning but have gotten much better at. We tried Bible studies (that would last a day or two), we tried nightly devotional books (Yea… it maybe happened once or twice a month?), and we even tried praying together nightly (Forget about it, one of us would always be asleep before the other’s head hit the pillow). These are all GREAT things and if you connect with your spouse by doing one of them, please continue! I find the problem to be when we compare our relationships (both with the Lord and with our spouse) to other people and fail to see God’s grace in who He made US to be.
While I cannot tell you how to experience God together, I do want to encourage you to find a way. For us, it has been through conversation. We talk about the sermon on Sunday and how it affected us. We talk about how God spoke to us when we were having our own separate times with him. And we talk about what is happening in both our lives and in the events around us as they relate to the Lord. I never feel more connected to Matt then when we have these conversations. Yes, we still pray together… but not all the time. We still read scripture together on occasion, but it usually happens when one of us is struggling over the meaning of a certain verse. We do a Bible study together with our Bible study group from church, but it usually involves a conversation over the content rather then filling in each blank with one another as we go.
Each couple is different. But that’s ok. God designed us this way and the sooner we realize how He created our spouse to worship Him, the sooner we will learn how to encourage them in it. So stop beating yourself up for not being like Mr. and Mrs. Perfect from your Sunday school, and enjoy the way God made you and your life partner. Find ways to connect spiritually and ways to worship the Lord together. When your relationship with God is the primary relationship in your life, it makes this process a whole lot easier. Focus on the Lord and look through His eyes when you view your spouse. Remember that He created him/her differently and find ways to connect together. It will allow you to enjoy life together in new and more meaningful ways.